Sitting in Central Park the other morning, I did my usual thing of being there from the perspective of my heart intelligence and perception. I find that whenever I shift into my heart space as the center from which I perceive and interpret my world, I inevitably experience a deeper sense of connection, relatedness, oneness, and care for whatever I may encounter along the way. I have written many times about the importance of cultivating heart awareness, and of the benefits of doing practices such as HeartMath’s Inner Balance and the Buddhist heart-centered practice of Tonglen. The older I get, and the more involved I become with these kinds of practices, the more I value the benefits of shifting from head to heart perception.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to play with the experience of shifting from head to heart during the course of your everyday life. For example, if you are caught up in thinking about a problem or a situation that challenges you in some way, play with the following process. Make a note of the thoughts and feelings you have when you think about it from a mental perspective and remember not to judge your thoughts – simply note them. Then, shift to your heart space and consider the same situation or problem from the perspective and intelligence of your heart. Then, write down what you feel and experience from that focus of awareness.
As you do this with various kinds of situations and circumstances, you may discover that your heart has a very different take on things than is natural for your thinking mind. This doesn’t mean to ignore your thinking or the thoughts you may have. Rather, it’s an opportunity to add in the perspective and intelligence of the heart, which may give you a more complete picture, or add new options, than you may have had with only your mental process to draw on. Over time, notice what happens when you remember to include your heart’s perception as an integral part of how you perceive and respond to your world.
One of the times when it’s especially helpful to shift into heart awareness is when you feel stressed or troubled by something, or when you can’t seem to let a thought or reaction go. By shifting into your heart’s intelligence and awareness and considering the situation from that perspective you might find that you can calm the process a bit through experiencing how your heart perceives.
Also, learning to shift into heart awareness can become a useful part of your self-care regimen. Shifting into heart intelligence and perspective tends to calm and settle the body-mind. Learning to access heart awareness at the beginning of the day, and then returning to it from time to time throughout the day, offers some respite from the stressful challenges and demands of daily living. And, for me, one of the most important benefits is that it promotes a sense of interconnection and care for others that supports a sense of well-being.
If working with this practice brings mixed feelings, allow yourself to notice and note them, as they bring important information about responses that deserve your attention and care.
As with all these practices, there is no right way to do it. Instead, it offers an opportunity for you to explore your relationship with your heart awareness and supports your ability to include the intelligence of your heart as you move through the course of your everyday life. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to allow any judgments that may arise to move through and then move on. There’s nothing you have to do with them. Noticing them is enough.